How to prepare for your new website

Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing our Website Preparation Guide. Stay tuned!

Creating your first website, or even redesigning an existing website can be a daunting experience. With so much to think about, owners often find it hard to know where to start.

This guide aims to walk you through the steps to go from a blank canvas to a finished document  It sets out everything you will need to start creating your website with confidence.

Whether you choose to partner with Chalet Engine, hire a web developer, or build your own website, this guide will take you step-by-step through the process.  It will also help you prepare starting work on your new website.

If at any point during this guide, you come across a question that you’re not sure about or just get bogged down in one section, you can reach out to us through our contact page and we will be happy to help in any way we can.

working-together

What we will cover

Creating the design is the easy part in a web design project. The hard part is creating the content to plug into the design. Yet it is the content that is most important and what speaks to the visitor. This is why we always start by identifying the types of guest that we would like to target, then produce the right content that our potential guests can relate to. Finally we wrap this inside a design that fits both the audience and the content.

I’ve broken this process of research, information gathering and creation down into eight steps.  Some might take a few minutes to complete, others will take a little time. At the beginning and end of this guide, you will find a form where you can download the worksheet and checklist that will help you work through this guide and keep track of your progress.

 

Here are the sections that we will cover:-

  1. Discovery
  2. Your domain name
  3. Login details
  4. Marketing
  5. Branding & Styling Preferences (coming soon...)
  6. Social Media Links & Login Details
  7. Page Content & Images
  8. Your Booking Process
  9. Blog Post Content & Images

By the time we have worked through these sections and completed the content in your worksheet,  you will be ready to take the next step and launch your new website.

1. Discovery

The first thing we want to do is get to know ourselves, our business and our strengths. We also want to identify our ideal guests and see how we can best serve them while also differentiating ourselves from the competition.

If you are already a Chalet Engine client, we may have discussed this on our kick-off call, but it is really worth spending some more time here as everything we do in the follow-up sections is built upon what you discover about yourself and your potential guests. Here are some high-level questions to get you started.

Can you list your personal and business strengths. Also note where these might be advantageous when compared to the competition. What can you do or offer that your competition can’t (or won’t!).

Who is your ideal client? What type of people would you like to attract with your website? For example, are you best suited to young couples, groups, families with small children etc.? Weekend breaks, those that are looking for skiing combined with other activities etc.? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to target your content and design and marketing for that audience.

What are your top 1-3 priorities for your website? Usually, attracting bookings will be No.1 but you may have other priorities such as promoting a complimentary service or product.

What do you want your website visitors to feel when they visit your website? For example, perhaps you would like your visitors first impression to be that this is a young and fun place to stay with a party atmosphere or alternatively it could be high-end, luxurious offering a more exclusive holiday?  Think about your ideal clients and what would appeal to them.

If you have an existing website, can you list 3 things that you like and 3 things that you wish you could change?

2. Your Domain Name

Choosing the right domain name is extremely important for so many reasons. There are many articles online to help guide you in the right direction and I strongly recommend that you watch Rand Fishkins short video here

When I’m looking for that perfect domain name, I like to start by listing all of my ideas, words and phrases, then try putting them together to create something that works. Thesaurus.com is useful for trying to find alternative words. Once you have a list of potential domain name ideas head over to hover.com to see what is available.

Domain Cloud

3. Login Details

unnamed

If you already have your domain and other services set up, it will be useful to pull all of your various login details together in one place. Some key information of relevance might include:-

 

  • Logins for Domain registrars and DNS management
  • The login address, username and password for your existing website
  • If you have login details for cPanel, FTP or phpMyAdmin
  • Login details for email management
  • Login details for email marketing and list management websites (for example Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber etc.)
  • Logins for listing websites, Tripadvisor etc.
  • Logins for Google search Console and Google Analytics

4. Marketing

Wait a minute, doesn’t marketing come after the website is launched? Well, mostly I would agree that the bulk of your marketing plan will spring into action after launch, but when it comes to creating a website, we like to begin with the end in mind.

Many websites are launched with the notion of ‘Build it and they will come’. Sadly, this doesn’t work on the web. You can have the best business and website in the world, but if you don't have a plan for how you are going to market it, you will struggle to drive visitors to your website and make bookings.

cartoon1
hubandspoke

At Chalet Engine, we follow the idea of a hub and spoke model. At the centre is the your website (the hub). Surrounding it are all of the channels that promote your business, but their primary purpose is always to bring those visitors back to your website. These channels can include things like social media, listing websites, SEO, advertising, email marketing etc.

Why place your website at the centre? The reason we do this is because this is the one asset that you own and control. Channels such as social media networks and listing sites rise and fall in popularity over time. Many of the original social networks have even disappeared. Remember Myspace, Friendster or Bebo?

Building a business that focuses around a Facebook page, or an AirBnB or Homeaway listing is like building a house on someone else's land. They own your listing and your content. They can and will change the rules over time. Some of the biggest names have already introduced new fees, actively removed references to personal websites and discourage use of brand names to make it difficult for owners to attract bookings outside of their platform.

 

Having your own slice of the internet means that you can build on your asset’s credibility and authority in your resort. At the same time, directing visitors back to your website with a balanced portfolio of channels that perform. If a channel disappears or begins to fade in popularity, all is not lost. Because you didn't ’bet the farm’ on that channel’s success, you can re-focus your efforts on alternative channels and take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

For the launch of your new website, have a plan, or at least some ideas for which channels you will use to promote your business at launch, as this will inform some of the choices you make while building your website.

To give you some ideas, here are a few popular marketing channels you might like to consider.

DIRECT & OFFLINE

For example, your email signature should include a link and reference to your website and any offers that you might have. Other offline opportunities include work bulletin boards, friends and family.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube etc.

GUEST BLOGGING

This is producing content for another website where there is a common interest in exchange for a link back to your own website.

PROPERTY MANAGERS

If you employ a local property management company, some also provide an area on their website to promote local properties.

PARTNERSHIPS

Partnerships with in-resort businesses that compliment your accommodation. For example, local ski hire shops, bars, restaurants tourism activities  and other businesses may be happy to promote your property in exchange for a reciprocal recommendation of their services to your guests.

ORGANIC SEARCH

This is the process of optimising content for visitors searches. We will work with you to optimise your content to help your website rank with the major search engines.

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

This is a free service by Google that helps you have your property appear on Google’s maps. By registering, Google post out a postcard to your address with a verification code. Once confirmed, your property can appear on Google maps and searches.

CONTENT MARKETING

This covers a variety of methods of creating content, which can be written, video or audio. Creating valuable content increases awareness and will help your website rank better on the search engines

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Become socially active. Most ski resorts have online communities. Joining these communities and taking part in the conversation can be a good way to make friends, partnerships and reach influencers in the area.

LISTING WEBSITES (SKI FOCUSSED)

These are the resort specific accommodation listing websites. There are also some ski specific websites that you can list your property on such as Ski Lettings, Chalets Direct, Independent Mountain etc.

LISTING WEBSITES (GENERAL)

These are the larger listing websites such as Homeaway, AirBnB and Holiday Lettings.

ADVERTISING

Adwords and Facebook. Both platforms provide the ability to create paid advertisements on their websites.  Advertisements can also be placed on 3rd party complimentary sites. Some local businesses may offer advertising or sponsorship of their website.

EMAIL MARKETING

This can include newsletter offers, events, last minute deals. Chalet Engine websites can integrate with all of the popular Email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp, constant Contact, Aweber etc.

If you have an existing website and already employ a variety of marketing tactics such as those listed above, let us know what marketing you are already engaged in and where relevant, record details so that we can ensure consistency between the old and new website. For example, you may have a form that adds visitors email addresses to a mailing list or perhaps an affiliate agreement with a local business for affiliate sales. This information will need to be factored into the design and content of your new website.